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  • Writer's pictureKristin Guglietti

LWQA reads letter from Pinelands


courtesy photo

HAMMONTON—Hammonton Lake Water Quality Advisory (LWQA) Committee Chairperson Dan Bachalis said Public Works Manager Scott Rivera received a letter dated Oct. 31 from the New Jersey Pinelands Commission (NJPC) seeking more additional information about the DuBois Associates report. The DuBois Associates report proposed establishing a habitat protection area for threatened and endangered species of purple and humped bladderwort on the far side of Hammonton Lake.


The letter from the NJPC was discussed during the Nov. 14 LWQA Committee meeting at the Hammonton Canoe Club.


Bachalis read parts of the letter.


“Now if you recall, the current proposal is to establish a habitat protection area on the far side of the lake for the humped bladderwort and the purple bladderwort and allow us to spray the rest of the lake. ‘Please submit the following information to demonstrate consistency of the current proposal with the T&E [threatened and endangered] plant species protection standard.


‘1. Please provide a written explanation from a qualified professional addressing how the proposed treatment of Hammonton Lake with the herbicide Diquat Dibromide, which specifically targets bladderwort species while protecting the Pinelands Plant Habitat Protection Area will not result in an irreversible adverse impact on the local populations of purple and humped bladderwort. Such explanations must address herbicide crossover or drift in the lake, wind is a factor, drift again, depth of water being treated and water velocity of the lake as it drains eastwardly.


‘2. To protect the concerned T&E plant species, please address why the objective of the proposed herbicide treatment of the water body cannot feasibly be achieved through mechanical control including harvesting, use of barriers and lake drawdown.


‘3. Please address whether any specific management measures, for example floating barriers temporary cofferdam, would be helpful or are proposed to protect critical habitat for both purple and humped bladderwort,’” Bachalis said.


Currently, the town does not have approval from NJPC yet to spray chemicals in the lake next spring.


The town will have to negotiate with the NJPC on how they will protect the threatened and endangered species of bladderwort before the town can get permission from the NJPC to spray the lake.


“What’s interesting is that they’re saying that we should also consider mechanical harvesting, which answers the question, ‘Will they allow us to do mechanical harvesting?’ Clearly they will allow us to do mechanical harvesting,” Bachalis said.


The three options to treat the lake are chemical treatment, mechanical harvesting and dredging.


According to Bachalis, town council raised the question if they should consider dredging during a public meeting, but that was before they entered into discussion with NJDEP [New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection] and the NJPC.


The LWQA Committee will give their input to the town to address the letter from the NJPC.


Another correspondence discussed at the meeting was a phone call Bachalis received from a Hammonton resident who wanted to talk about the lowering of the lake.


“Just calling to note that as we lower the lake—of course he’s going on the basis of the full length that’s included in the permit, which is March 15,” Bachalis said. “If we leave the lake lowered until March 15, that just increases the chances that the raccoons are going to eat up all the freshwater mussels in the lake, thereby reducing the abilities of those mussels to filter the water and keep the lake clean. We also talked about the fact that bladderwort cleans up the lake too.”


LWQA Committee member Robert Roesch said he doesn’t remember the committee voting to lower the lake.


Bachalis replied.


“I don’t know if we actually voted on it, but the boards and the dam need to be fixed. And I think it was actually due to be lowered anyway,” Bachalis said.


Roesch said he has no problem with the lake lowering, but he remembers the lake lowering coming through the LWQA Committee.


The town engineer applies for the permit and the NJDEP issues the permit, Bachalis said.

Bachalis said he expects the lake to come back up before spring.


According to Bachalis, last year the lake lowering was for an emergency response to a possible storm surge.


“This year they got the boards and the dam that have to be replaced,” Bachalis said.


During the meeting, the committee discussed rain garden maintenance.


According to the agenda, the committee needs work dates to remove “volunteer” plants and silt, and restore rock edging.


“I was over there last week and looking at it with fresh eyes, and the silt has gone into the rain garden has brought the level of the garden up to the level of the parking lot, so all this stuff is going to wash in and nothing is going to sink into the rain garden. So it’s got to be dug out and restored,” Bachalis said.


Bachalis is going to send an email to the Friends of the Lake group to seek volunteers to help with the rain garden.


During the new business portion of the meeting, Bachalis said he had a conversation with Rutgers University’s Professor, Extension Specialist and Director of the New Jersey Water Resources Research Institute Christopher Obropta.


Obropta was contracted by NJDEP to create a new Totally Daily Maximum Loads (TDML) for various substances, mainly nutrients and also a draft Watershed Plan for Hammonton Creek.

Bachalis said he doesn’t know what the draft says yet.


Bachalis will talk to Obropta to see how many public hearings they need, which could be one to three public hearings.


Since LWQA Committee member Bill Parkhurst was absent, the committee will discuss spatterdock control during next month’s meeting.


The next LWQA Committee meeting will be on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. at the Hammonton Canoe Club.


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